Data & Cloud Tech Summit 2018: Data are safer in the cloud

(L-R) Sunny Lee of City University of Hong Kong, William Laurent of NYU School of Professional Studies, Aditya Halan of Ok Sir and Gaja Vaidyanatha of HSBC

The time may be rife for Hong Kong companies to set themselves free of one of their primary concerns for moving workloads onto the cloud: cybersecurity.

This was one of the key insights that delegates took home during the recent Data & Cloud Tech Summit recently held at The Mira, Hong Kong.

At the discussion entitled “Cloudification: At what cost”, two members of the panel gave their reasons for believing security on the cloud is better than the one on premise, which runs contrary to a long-held general perception.

“Assuming there is no legal compliance issues or personal data protection issues, I am a big proponent of public cloud just because security,” said William Laurent, adjunct professor – Data Analytics, NYU School of Professional Studies.

He said: “If you have Azure and Google or AWS, I have yet to see any in-house systems that are going to have that level of security and that level of expertise in-house to be able to secure the data.”

Laurent believes more and more data should be moved to the public cloud as it becomes increasingly mature.  

“Every week, Google and Amazon are adding new services. These platforms are getting more and more mature in the public cloud,” he said. “As an interim step, I think hybrid cloud is a good way to get there and maybe bifurcate data based on their sensitivity. But for me, the goal has always been to get more out into the public cloud.”

Gaja Vaidyanathan, global head of data services, Global Private Banking, HSBC, agreed with the sentiment.

“I think we all know that by the year 2020 pretty much 70% of all computing will be on public cloud,” Vaidyanathan added.

Circling back to cybersecurity, he observed that most companies today have a false sense of security inside the firewall.

“You believe everything is secure inside the firewall. And just because you put something on the cloud, all of the sudden, it becomes insecure,” Vaidyanathan noted.

“In fact I can tell you, if you use their security reference architecture AWS, Azure and GCP (Google Cloud Platform), I would challenge you to be able to crack into one of the databases that we built using these reference architectures – because not only can you block everything from the traffic standpoint – you can say that ‘only source machines that you can receive traffic from are from internal machines’,” said Vaidyanathan.

Also, he said companies can actually set up API gateways at “every stage of the game”.

“Everybody heard of Fort Knox, which is the most secure place on the planet. If someone said ‘does Fort Knox has a public gate?’ – Yes, it does. But can you get into the gate without being traced or tracked? The answer is no and that is the whole point,” Vaidyanathan said.

He pointed out: “There could be a public access point but that doesn’t mean you’re going to get into it. So I would say that the cloud is far more secure than anything on prem in any corporation out there.

“And I know that sounded so radical but that is the real thing. And I will tell you why that is. If you talk to Amazon how many people they in their NOC (Network Operations Center) across the globe, the answer will be something close to zero. And that is because there are thousands of bots that are automatically detecting intrusions attempts. So all of that have been automated, you cannot humanly staffed an NOC with that many data centers. It is not humanly possible.”

Suggested Articles

HKSTP has commenced construction of its on-site residential building InnoCell, and teamed up with the Construction Industry Council on AI and robotics

Over three in four Hong Kong CIOs are finding it difficult to source qualified IT professionals as a result of the city's ongoing IT skills shortage

HCL reportedly left employee passwords, customer project reports and other sensitive data exposed online with no authentication